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Fishing Under Pressure to Perform

Magazine deadlines and Editors are a volatile and voluble mixture. The closer the deadline the more voluble and volatile the Editor becomes.

I wrote this article after a hurried trip back from a far north holiday haven. The hurried nature of the trip was in response to a none too gentle conversation with my Editor. It appeared that if my expletive deleted (ED) article wasn't ED ready by ED WednesED-day my ED guts would be ED hung up on something far too rude to mention.

My suggestion that the Editor needed a fishing trip and some lessons on the subject of stress management was met with a stream of foreign (Australian) invective and an almost pathetic dissertation on the problems of working under too much pressure.

Momentarily, I thought about telling him that time and tide waited for no man, not just Editors. However I decided that my small brain could learn only so many new obscenities in one day.

Actually the conversation, and I use the word 'conversation' very loosely, had at least one benefit. Prior to the conversation I did not have a clue about a subject for this months story. The conversation with the Editor provided the creative spark.

Fishing is supposed to be a relaxing sport or recreation.

This should not be taken to mean that to be a successful fisherman does not require a good deal of preparation and commitment to achieving his fishing goals. Becoming a successful fishermen requires the same dedication to purpose as is required in becoming successful at any other sport.

But fishing should provide the means to relieve the stress of modern life, but too often we can put ourselves under pressure while fishing to the point where the relaxation value is nil.

I guess the most obvious example of this is the good old promising someone a feed of fresh fish, pressure.

We all know the story, a team is coming around for dinner and we tell them that fresh fish is on the menu. In fact it will be really fresh as we are going to catch it that very day.

Telling someone that, is the fishing kiss of death.

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You know, and I know, that day you will not be able to buy a fish. What was supposed to be a quiet day out catching a feed, turns out to be worse than any day at work.

By the time you are sitting down eating a burnt chop from the barbeque, enduring all the wisecracks about how you are the great white hunter, your blood pressure could blow up punctured truck tyres, while they are still on the truck.

I guess about as silly as promising someone a feed of fish at a specified time, is taking someone back to the spot that was firing a couple of days a go.

Back then the fish were just about biting the prop off the motor. But now the sea might just as well be the desert. Your credibility rating sinks to lower than that of your average politician. "You should have been here a couple of days ago" is just about the most pathetic cry ever emitted by a fishermen.

The people who hear it are simply not going to believe it. Your stress levels will build at about the same rate as your credibility crumbles. Lord Beaverbrook, in the 1930's had a great adage, "promise them nothing, but the hope of something." I can think of more than too many times I wished I had taken Lord B's advice.

The smartest Charter boat skippers and fishing guides have selling the hope of fish down to a tee.

Another easy way of putting pressure on yourself is the 'failure to check' method.

Back when, the lad and I set out in the tiny tinny to go and catch a few kingis. I scored a reasonable fish on 6kg. gear and while it was rampaging around the boat the lad and I played the well known "where the hell is the gaff" game.

This game is almost too easy to play.

One sure fire method is to have the lad take the gaff out on someone else's boat. Lad's are not like Fathers. Fathers are invariably perfect. Fathers do not, and never have done, the things that Lads do, the bad things at least.

Because Dad's are so perfect, they do not think it necessary to check on the fact that the Lad has put the gaff back in his boat. After all the Lad is his father's son. One day my then wife will tell me who the father of the Lad was.

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Failure to check, is a sure fire way to turn  a fishing trip into a pressure trip.

 One of my favourite trout fishing spots is only about one hours drive from Auckland. Well it is about an hour to get there. It seems about three damn hours to get back - dark, dank and brooding hours. Those same hours are filled with the question, "why didn't I check that the spool was in the fly reel?" It was so easy to grab the fly reel bag and stuff it in the vest. I could feel that the reel was in the bag.

I was right, the reel was in the bag, the spool wasn't.

But I am pleased to report that I am not completely stupid. A couple of trips later, I had learned my lesson well. I checked that the two spools for the reel were in the vest and away I went. Every kilometre I went was a kilometre away from the reel which was still on the bench.

Even my esteemed Editors command of the lower forms of the baser areas of the English language would have been no competition to the torrent of taboo tidbits that toppled from my tongue that day.

Pressure to perform in fishing terms is entirely relative to attitudes and actions.

Marlin illustration

A couple of years ago I was out fishing off the Whakatane area in pretty atrocious conditions, pretty unsuccessfully. The guy who was on the charter trip with me has already featured in my books as one of the great chunderers of all time.

Not only was this guy a definitive chunderer but his attitude to fishing success was in a word, beaut.

We were single minded; chasing marlin so we would not be distracted by mere tuna or kingfish.

As the hours turned into days, the champion chunderer's cry remained the same, "we are just one fish away from Our Objective."

Good, basic, pressure deflating stuff. Fishing should always be like that , just one step, one fish away from your particular fishing objective. Takes a lot of the pressure away.


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Article written by Tony Bishop


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